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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life-affirming, radiant tale
The character of Zorba the Greek has entered mainstream culture, having subsequently been the subject of a successful film and musical, but the original lies here in Kazantzakis's timeless novel, based in Crete in the 1930s. And what an unforgettable character he is - a simple man, based on a real individual called George Zorbas whom the author met, who lives intensely...
Published on 23 Feb 2012 by jacr100

versus
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Life at its most unappealing
This is one of the books that is recommended as one of the thousand books to read before you die. I am slowly working my way through them.

From the reviews here already I see that it is one of those books many people feel passionately about and defend to the death.

I cannot, for the life of me, see why.

The hero, such as he is, seems...
Published 5 months ago by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley


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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zorba the Greek, 26 July 2009
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This review is from: Zorba the Greek (Paperback)
Having been to Crete for a holiday and being told the story of Zorba the Greek I decided it would be good to read the story and this edition is a good read. Highly recommended
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23 of 41 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A brutal adolescent fantasy philosophy, 3 Dec 2009
This review is from: Zorba the Greek (Paperback)
Definitely time this got a review to provide some balance. I wouldn't usually review a book from one angle only but in this case I feel it is justified: this is one of the most relentlessly misogynistic books I have ever read. Women are a major theme of the book and are throughout described as 'weak', as alien beings, even at one point as non-human. They are either alluring sirens or ugly or sluts or 'jades', and their ways are seen as inexplicable, except it is possible to learn how to manipulate them to your own ends - something Zorba, with a string of abandoned relationships behind him, is excellent at.

When Zorba tires of women - and the kids they have brought into the world - they are to be abandoned, in the name of an idealised pursuit of a 'passionate' life. And that is why I feel it is justified simply to focus on this brutal sexism in the book - because it utterly corrupts the philosophy of the book, which focusses on a male adolescent concept of freedom that comes down to 'do whatever you feel like'. For all the endlessly repeated mystical 'buddhist' musings (not much to do with real buddhism) the writer is not detached enough to understand the needless brutality of the patriarchal culture from which he comes. That is a pretty major failing in someone attempting to address human 'universals'.

Ultimately the two women that Zorba and the narrator respectively have a relationship with or lust over, die or are murdered as a result of the failings of men. This is described, in a moment of faux-buddhism, as a 'necessary' part of life.

As for the much-romanticised 'passionate' life in the book, while I'm sure it may help people at a particular time in their lives (including many of the reviewers here) - as a stand-alone philosophy I see it as a dishonest and shallow one that fails to take account of one of the most important things in our lives: human relationships and the importance of looking after each other. If the author had ever been able to talk to women as human beings he might have learned more about this. As it is, the book and its philosophy are ugly failures.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Zorba The Greek, 20 Aug 2002
By 
Mr. Richard C. Sharp "Tricky42" (Liverpool, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Zorba the Greek (Paperback)
I last read this book in 1985 and its message still reacheses out now. Yeats wrote "Choose Life or the Work" Zorba chooses life but this is no determined choice. His 'choice' is borne from his free spirit. He has transcended morality to do as Cowley said to "Do as thou wilst". Zorba is Nietche's Superman not constained by morality - he does as he pleases. The author, as the book is written in the first person, is clearly Kazantzakis as a young man who struggles with right and wrong and clearly follows an ancient Greek approach to philosophy in that he lets it be his guiding principles. Zorba takes the more modern existentialist approach to his life. Zorba and the author are reaslly just metaphors - the message is live life to the full because you might just be dead tomorrow.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exuberance versus Withdrawal, 4 Mar 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Zorba the Greek (Paperback)
I would like to touch on a different aspect of this prolific book. Sadly we have been bombarded by the film carrying the same name but which fails to carry the struggle to the viewer. Readers focus on this rebelious, should we baptise it as 'Dionysiac' approach, this mysterious dream we call life, however one should proceed a little bit further. What is not mentioned or hinted in the film is the philosophical approach of the Boss (i.e. Kazantzakis), this the point of the enormous struggle of the spirit against the sensual, to honour the great Cavafy, tendencies of the body. "You think too much" Zorba tells him so often, but who can remove the Bhuddhistic poems from the Boss and expect him to carry on breathing? How can one alter the path of self emancipation when the path is already set, how, is an interesting though long question... "It was too late, too late to change my life..." Kazantzakis reflects, but this is where the truth is somewhat relatively shadowed, who would believe that such a brilliance par excellance was struck by the apparition of a Zorba at such late a time, no, no his path was set, this one may see when he refers to the Great Martyr (Nietzsche) in his Report to Greco; how different their opinions but what respect and emotion for the philosopher, why? For they both represent the same flame in some different manifestation. His love, attraction and withdrawal from Zorba (think of his relationship to the Eagle, Sikelianos) is the bond to the opposite edge, the respect and disguised love for the true enemy.
Dedicate time and thoughts to it, as always the Teacher will take you afar...
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Adored it for the right and wrong reasons, 9 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Zorba the Greek (Paperback)
An masterfully told tale of an unusual sort of fellow who danced according to his own beat and his cautious companion in a Greece that now exists only in books.

The side characters many times steal the show and more than once I found myself comparing them - in particular the old Bouboulina - to the people I come across every now and then. It even inspired a blog entry: [...]

It's a life lesson if you can read between the lines.
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3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable, ebullient Zorba!, 25 Nov 2003
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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The novel has ist origins in the author's own experiences of mining and harvesting in the Peleponnesus in the 1920s. The narrator's adventures are exhilarating and havoc-making. If you like a humorous adventure set in the beautiful landscapes of unforgettable Greece, this is the book to read.
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Zorba the Greek
Zorba the Greek by N. Kazantzakis (Paperback - 23 Dec 1996)
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